Essex County, Ontario

Essex County, Ontario

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Essex County, Ontario
other_name =
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settlement_type = County
motto =

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map_caption = Location of Essex County in Ontario

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subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = CAN
subdivision_type1 = Province
subdivision_name1 = ONT
subdivision_type2 =
subdivision_name2 =
subdivision_type3 =
subdivision_name3 =
subdivision_type4 =
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seat_type =County seat
Administrative seat
seat =Windsor
Essex, Ontario
parts_type =Municipalities
parts_style =
parts =
p1 =*Amherstburg
p2 = Essex
p8=Township of Pelee
government_footnotes =
government_type =
leader_title = Warden
leader_name = Nelson Santos (also Mayor of Kingsville)
leader_title1 = Deputy Warden
leader_name1 = John Adams (also Mayor of Leamington, acting as warden)
leader_title2 =
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established_title = Settled
established_date = 1747
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area_magnitude =
unit_pref =Imperial
area_footnotes =
area_total_km2 =1851.34
area_land_km2 =
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area_total_sq_mi = 714.8
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population_as_of = 2006
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population_total = 393402
population_density_km2 = auto
population_density_sq_mi = auto
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area_code = 519/226
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website = [ County of Essex]
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Essex County is a county and census division located in Southwestern Ontario and covers an area at the southernmost tip of Canada. The county seat is Windsor and the administrative seat is Essex. The population of Essex County was approximately 393,402 in 2006cite web|url=|title=Essex County, Ontario|work=2006 Community Profiles|publisher=Statistics Canada|accessdate=2007-03-13] .

The current municipalities in Essex County are:
*LeamingtonThese seven municipalities were established by a restructuring process in the 1990s. In addition, Pelee Island is included as part of Essex County as a Township.

The City of Windsor is governed as a separated municipality but is part of the Essex Census division.


Essex County is largely composed of clay-based soils, with sandy soils along the beaches and shores. For the most part, Essex County is flat farmland, with some woodlots. There is a small 30–50 foot (10–15 m) high ridge near Kingsville and Leamington in the southern part of the county, and large marshland near Hillman Marsh Conservation Area, and Point Pelee National park. The most built-up part of the county is naturally, the city of Windsor, Ontario. Excluding Windsor (which is a Separated Municipality), Leamington is the most-urbanized part of the county.

Adjacent counties and municipalities

* Across Lake St. Clair lies Macomb County, Michigan, US (north)
* Chatham-Kent (east)
* Wayne County, Michigan, US (west and northwest)
* Monroe County, Michigan, US (southwest)
* Across Lake Erie lies Lucas (southwest), Ottawa (south), and Erie (southeast) Counties, Ohio, US


Early settlement

Essex was one of the first counties to be settled in Ontario, mostly by French people in the mid-1700s. Around 1747, the first permanent settlements began to appear on what is now the Canadian side of the Detroit River. Lower down the river, lands were occupied by native people known as Wyandots or "Hurons", around the Mission of Bois Blanc (French for White Wood) as a centre opposite the island of the same name. The Mission was eventually abandoned and re-established closer to what became Sandwich Township, and was closer to the safety of Fort Detroit. When farmers first arrived, they encountered difficulty in trying to clear the extremely thick forests that covered Essex County. The farmers grew to "hate" the trees, and chopped them down, starved them from nourishment by cutting deep gashes in the bark, and burned them to clear the way to get to the fertile soils underneath. The fires were so intense, that the reddish glow could be seen from Chicago, 300 miles (500 km) away, as millions of cords of wood burned.

Settlement continued southward along the river and was known as Petit Cote (Small Coast), which was a reference to the shorter length of river frontage compared to the Detroit side. Names such as LaSalle and Ojibway appeared which continue to be in use. The first road in Ontario was laid out to connect the settlements, which is now over 200 years old and is known as Former King's Highway 18 (now County Road 20).

When river frontage along Petit Cote was occupied, settlement began to extend toward Lake St. Clair, which became known as the Assumption Settlement. In the late 1700s and early 1800s the French ventured east along the south shore of Lake St. Clair and settled in the present day areas of Belle River, Rochester and Stoney Point (Point-aux-Roches). These communities still have a large francophone population.

Amherstburg and Sandwich were the first towns established in Essex County, both in 1796 after the British ceded Fort Detroit by the terms of the Jay Treaty signed in 1794. Fort Malden was built near Amherstburg, opposite Bois Blanc Island. Sandwich was located upstream, encompassing what is now Windsor. The populations of both towns were augmented by people from Detroit who chose to remain British subjects.

After the American Revolution, people continued to migrate to the area, seeking land. Settlers began to move eastward along the north shore of Lake Erie. Land was purchased from the Indians in the southern half of the current county, located in the four townships formerly known as Gosfield North and South and Colchester North and South. The British Court made land available for settlement, provided that the land bear certain improvements within a year and that it not be used for speculation. This area became known as the New Settlement (as compared to the Old Settlement of the towns of Amherstburg and Sandwich. Settlers in this area included Hessians who fought for the British against the American rebels, and Pennsylvania Dutch pacifists (Mennonites).

Formation of Essex County

In 1791, the province of Upper Canada was formed. In 1792, Upper Canada was divided into nineteen counties, of which Essex was the eighteenth and part of the Western District. At that time, the eastern boundary of Essex County extended further east into what is now Kent County. Settlement continued, on January 1 1800 an Act for the Better Division of the Province established the Townships of Rochester, Mersea, Gosfield, Maidstone, Sandwich and Malden.

ettlement 1820 to 1850

Longer roads began to appear in the County after the War of 1812, the first of which followed Indian trails. Colonel Thomas Talbot contributed to road development, and Talbot Road was named for him. Talbot Road followed a natural ridge of glacial moraine which stretched from Windsor to Point Pelee.

The establishment of good roads led to further settlement along the 'Middle Road' and in the area of what is now Leamington. Settlers of this era were often emigrants from Britain and Ireland; in the 1840's the potato famines led to significant immigration. The village of Maidstone was the centre of the Irish community, and an area known as the "Scotch Colony" appeared along the shore of Lake St.Clair.

Essex County was also a destination of the Underground Railroad by which African slaves in the 19th century United States escaped to freedom. The John Freeman Walls Historic Site in Maidstone (Lakeshore) is testament to this period. Many of the descendants of the fugitives moved back to the United States to support the Union Army in the US Civil War, or to reconnect with family after emancipation.

Economic development 1850 to 1900

In 1854 the Great Western Railway connected the Detroit frontier with the east, crossing Essex County. The Canadian terminal was in Windsor, which consequently forged ahead of the other towns of the county. Other railway lines were built which connected settlements in Kingsville, Harrow, Essex and Leamington.

By the late 1800s Essex County had seen fur trading and logging, land clearing and farming, road building and railway development, saw mills and gristmills, railway stations and water ports. By this time the forests were disappearing, replaced by fertile farmland.

Also noticeable in some farmers' fields, are oil pumps, particularly near Belle River and Leamington, Ontario, in the northern and eastern parts of the county, respectively.

Essex County restructuring, 1990s

In 1992, discussions began to take place to reduce the number of individual municipalities, which at the time numbered 21 in the County. This culminated on January 1, 1999 when a Minister's Order by the Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was implemented, putting in place the new municipal structure for the County of Essex.

*Anderdon - Now part of Amherstburg
*Colchester North - Now part of Essex
*Colchester South - Now part of Essex
*Gosfield North - Now part of Kingsville
*Gosfield South - Now part of Kingsville
*Maidstone - Now part of Lakeshore
*Malden - Now part of Amherstburg
*Mersea - Now part of Leamington
*Pelee - Still exists
*Rochester - Now part of Lakeshore
*Sandwich East - Parts in Windsor and in Tecumseh
*Sandwich South - Now in Tecumseh
*Sandwich West - Parts in LaSalle and in Windsor
*Tilbury North - Now in Lakeshore
*Tilbury West - Now in Lakeshore

*Amherstburg, Ontario (former town of, now merged with Anderdon Twp. and Malden Twp.)
*Belle River, Ontario
*Essex, Ontario (former town of, merged with Colchester N. Twp. and Colchester S. Twp.)
*Harrow, Ontario
*Kingsville, Ontario (former town of, merged with Gosfield N. Twp. and Gosfield S. Twp.)
*Leamington, Ontario (former town of, merged with Mersea Twp.)
*St. Clair Beach, Ontario
*Tecumseh, Ontario (former town of, merged with Sandwich S. Twp)


This gallery displays all of the Municipal shields in Essex County. Windsor, Ontario is absent, as it is a Separated Municipality.

Township of Pelee


Essex County also has an official tartan.

The tartan's colours correspond to different meanings.

* /Yellow is meant to stand for sunshine, also for the rich agriculture and golden harvests of the many farmed plants (grains, corn, soy beans, barley, oats and wheat).
* Green stands for the spring fields around Essex County.
* Red represents tomatoes, as Leamington is the "Tomato Capital Of the World", and for other fruits, such as apples.
* Blue stands for the blue skies and the waterways of the county.
* Black is meant to represent the automotive industry that fuels Windsor and Essex County.
* White represents the salt mines in Windsor and western Essex County, and fish in the surrounding rivers and lakes.


The County of Essex is governed by a County Council, whose members are the Mayors and Deputy Mayors from the seven lower-tier municipalities of the County. The Head of Council is known as the Warden. The term of office for County Councillors and the Warden coincides with the frequency of municipal elections in Ontario, in other words a person elected to be Mayor of Leamington, for example, will be a member of County Council for the term that she or he is Mayor. Nelson Santos, Mayor of Kingsville, was chosen to be Warden in December, 2006. A complete list (from 1853 to present) of the past Wardens of Essex County is [ here] .

County government is responsible for issues which include transportation, community and social services (eg. homes for the aged, child care, social housing), libraries, planning, emergency management coordination and corporate-wide business such as finance and taxation policies, general corporate policy and labour relations. The County does not have a police force or fire services, for which the seven municipalities are responsible.


English-language public education for kindergarten through secondary school grades in Essex County is administered by the Greater Essex County District School Board, along with the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board which oversees English-language catholic education.

French-language public and catholic education are overseen by Conseil scolaire de district du Centre-Sud-Ouest and Conseil scolaire de district des écoles catholiques du Sud-Ouest respectively. The scope of all of these organizations includes both the County and the City of Windsor.

Public post-secondary education is available at the University of Windsor and at St. Clair College.


[ County of Essex]

[ Map of wineries in Essex County]

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